Field Notes: Crossing the Salish Sea

By: Adrien Sala
Photos: Rory McGarry and Adrien Sala

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Field Notes: Crossing the Salish Sea

5:30AM UPDATE
The standup paddlers left English Bay this morning at 5:30 AM in near perfect conditions!
They started off making almost 5 km/h and hope to cross the Salish Sea before the winds pick up and tides change.

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7:30AM UPDATE
Entering the shipping lanes like it was no big deal…


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9:30AM UPDATE
Cape Able. “Half way across Georgia strait. Wind has started to pick up – 3 foot seas – so conditions are challenging but the paddlers are doing great. Running ahead of schedule.”

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11:30AM UPDATE
One paddler forced out by chronic hand injury. All the others are looking good. North West waves are starting to kick up as the tide turns and starts to run against the paddlers. Still making about 5.5 km/h two-thirds of the way there already.

6:30 PM
Arrival. 70 kms of straight paddling across the Salish Sea, and just before land, the wind died off and the sun came out – fortunately. The previous few hours had been a battle, with a tide running against the group, dropping their speed down to 1 ½ knots an hour (at that pace, they’d still be only about halfway across and there would have been way more profanity).

Waiting at the dock to greet everyone were Whitfield’s two daughters, his mom Linda, and his dog Mack, who nearly busted out of his leash at the sight of the group limping toward the dock. There wasn’t a lot of fanfare in return from the side of the paddlers – mostly just a collective sigh of relief and a lot of comments about food.

“I’m hungrier than I’ve been in recollection,” Duff Gibson joked as he knocked back the “best cookies” of his life.

After a solid 12 hours paddling, the group was decidedly excited to make camp, but didn’t really have the energy to show it. Most wandered onshore, dragging their boards to the campground, then fell into chairs. At this point, they started feeding and rehydrating and mentally preparing for tomorrow’s paddle, which is a mere 40 kms.

This is when it’s important to fuel. The group (which is both men and women) is constantly thinking about their intake, making sure they avoid dehydration. Most men, in the general population, don’t do this. It’s a hugely important thing to do – to drink 2.5 liters of water each day – but most barely have a glass. If there was something simple you wanted to do to start making a change in your life, this might be the best way to start. A couple glasses of water here and there helps with digestion, provides energy and keeps a person feeling sharp. It’s a little change that will pay huge dividends.

For now though, the point is for these paddlers to keep topped up so they are ready to tackle the tomorrow.

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Day 2

9:00AM
Blisters, cramps, coffee, breakfast… And we’re off. The team is currently pushing through between Galliano and Saltspring, pushing straight into a 13 knot wind with a tail current of 6 knots. Spirits are high. The California contingent wants to troll for salmon. Should make lee of Saltspring in less than 30 minutes – then it’s smooth sailing!

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11:20AM
Just took our first break off Saltspring (Beaver Point) in lee of the wind. The group refueled with power bars, water, a bit of banter and some jokes. Spirits are high and we’re setting back out for the next leg! The Californians still want some salmon.

Make sure to follow the crew’s challenges on Twitter with #SUP4MH.

For more information, visit: DontChangeMuch.ca
Follow the journey here in Field Notes.

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